The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), along with RadTech International North America and other collaborators, has launched a new program in radiation/energy curing, the Radiation Curing Program (RCP). Supported in part by a U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant, the program is comprised of three online courses and an Advanced Certificate.
“RCP trains practicing professionals, as well as upper-level undergraduate and graduate students, in the science and technology of energy curing such as ultraviolet (UV) or electron beam (EB) processing,” said Dan Montoney, chief technology officer at Rapid Cure Technologies and adjunct professor in the Radiation Curing Program at SUNY-ESF.
UV and EB curing refer to a special way in which coatings, inks, adhesives, composites and other materials may be cured as an alternative to traditional energy-intensive methods that produce harmful emissions.
“In short, these processes entail ultraviolet energy from a UV lamp and the focused electrons in EB to instantly cure/crosslink specially formulated chemistries, using less energy and at a lower cost than conventional/incumbent methods,” said Montoney. “The RCP program was developed by a team of academic and experienced energy practitioners to reflect current and emerging industry-relevant content and applications. Participants may pursue one or more courses on a non-credit basis; pursue one or more courses for graduate-level credit; or earn an Advanced Certificate in Radiation Curing by meeting application requirements and successfully completing all three courses for credit.
The Spring 2014 schedule includes “Introduction to Polymer Coatings” – February 3, 2014 - April 18, 2014 / Online; “Radiation Curing of Polymer Technologies” – February 17, 2014 - May 2, 2014 / Online and “Radiation Curing Equipment, Instrumentation and Safety” – February 17, 2014 - April 18, 2014 / Online.
The program was piloted in Summer 2013 and continued in the Fall semester 2013.
“The focus for Spring 2014 has been to adapt our outreach efforts to an increasingly broader audience, thanks in part to our partners at RadTech International, Rapid Cure Technologies, CenterState CEO and other local and regional organizations,” said Montoney.
This program was developed to address the workforce shortage of radcure experts despite the fact that that in New York state alone, nearly
1,000 chemists with bachelor's degrees were seeking employment,
according to Department of Labor statistics.
“The shortage is primarily due to a lack of awareness among industry practitioners and academia that the technology even exists,” said Montoney. “Despite this technology being utilized in multiple industrial settings, it is not commonly publicized, as the use of such technology is seen as a significant competitive advantage in their respective marketplaces.”
According to Montoney, sustainable materials manufacturing is a vital sector of the U.S. economy. This innovative high-growth field currently represents a $1 billion/year industry in North America.
“Sustainable materials manufacturing develops products using processes and materials that require less energy, consume fewer resources, create a smaller waste stream and produce less pollution than comparable materials and processes,” said Montoney. “The uses of radiation curing processes are well-documented within the sustainable manufacturing field--particularly when used with manufactured products that require fast processing and/or on substrates that are sensitive to heat. This process uses less energy and at lower cost than conventional/incumbent methods and allows for since most or all of the solvents in traditional processes may be eliminated.”
As this growing field is transforming the advanced manufacturing and technical industries, the Radiation Curing Program promotes the opportunity for students and industry professionals to capitalize on this rapidly emerging trend.
“The courses provide an option for students and practitioners to study current and future challenges and opportunities in energy curing: industrial applications, curing techniques, commercially available equipment, and the environmental impacts / financial costs of radiation curable chemistries,” said Montoney.
The use of radiation curing technology is predicted to continue to grow.
“Radiation curing technology is growing every day in numerous markets and applications,” said Montoney.”The technology has been used commercially for more than 30 years, with growth evident throughout its history. There are many products that would not exist today without this technology.”
Montoney predicts that radiation curing should see significant growth in markets like military, medical, architectural, electronics and general industrial. “This will include applications like composites, coatings, adhesives and sealants. The potential to reach multiple sectors will continue to develop as the energy curing technologies grow and evolve in their functions,” he concluded.